U.S.-led coalition air strikes killed many civilians, while Syrian and Russian warplanes even appeared to target hospitals
Bashar Assad is the current president of Syria as well as the Regional Secretary of the country's Ba'ath Party.
The son of late Syrian president Hafez Assad, Bashar Assad was chosen by his father as successor only after the untimely death of his older brother, Bassel. At the time, Bashar Assad was completing his ophthalmology training in London, and his father was worried that his son's lack of experience in state affairs would eventually spell the end of the Ba'ath party's 30-year reign in Syria.
Bashar, who is also a colonel in the Syrian military, assumed into the role of president in June 2000. One of his first acts as president was to release dozens of political prisoners from Syrian jails, a move that many hoped would be only the first in a series of actions that would lead Syria closer to reform and perhaps toward better relations with the West. A year later, however, Syrian security forces resumed a crackdown on political dissent inside the country.
Regarding his views on Israel, immediately upon entering office Assad stated his support for a Hezbollah presence on Israel's border with Lebanon, repeated his calls for an unconditional Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, and expressed his support for the Palestinian use of violence against Israel.
Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Assad regime was accused by the United States of allowing Jihadist fighters to enter Iraq through Syria. Assad also ignored repeated calls by Washington to end support for Hezbollah, and prevent Palestinian terror groups from operating on Syrian territory. All this, combined with his alliance with Iran, signaled swiftly deteriorating Syrian-U.S. relations.
The assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, for which Syria was largely blamed, was the final straw that prompted Washington to pull its ambassador from Damascus.
Assad denied that Syria had been involved in the assassination, but a wave of Lebanese hostility sparked by the assassination of the much-loved former leader added to pressure on Syria to pull its troops from Lebanon after almost 30 years.
Despite the removal of troops, however, the Assad regime continues to play a role in Lebanese affairs, primarily through the continued support for Hezbollah, which Israel alleges is receiving arms from Damascus. Following the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, Assad hailed the Shi'ite group's “victory” and condemned other Arab leaders for not supporting the militant organization against Israel.
Despite initial predictions that the politically inexperienced Assad would struggle to maintain a grip on power, the opposite appears to be true. Nonetheless, some pundits have speculated that Assad is merely a figurehead for the Ba'ath regime, and that Syrian policies are actually formed by others.
Bashar Assad is married to Asma Assad, a British-born Sunni Muslim from London, where the two met and she was raised. They have three children, the oldest named for his grandfather, Hafez.
'I had already lost my children and now I've lost my country,' Abdel Hamid al-Yousef laments after he was forced to flee his town and resettle near the Turkish border
This marks second truce called this month in the embattled region, the first of which collapsed after three days
One of Washington's main regional allies has been drawing closer to Damascus to counter influence of Iran and Turkey
Chances for European efforts at renewed U.S.-Iran talks increasingly under strain as Mike Pompeo says 'reliable information' shows tanker headed to Syrian port
Explained Syrian Crisis: Russia, Turkey and Assad Do Battle in Idlib With Millions of Lives Hanging in the Balance
In the long-running Syrian civil war, now in its ninth year, the northwestern region — where Turkish, Russian, U.S. and Iranian interests are at stake — has taken center stage in the conflict
The offensive by Assad's troops in the northwest of Syria is causing a humanitarian crisis and threatening Turkey's national security, Erdogan said last week
According to Erdogan's office, Turkish president has told Putin that violations of the cease-fire in Idlib is paving the way to a 'humanitarian crisis'
Al-Qaida-linked faction says its fighters withdrew to the southern part of the town of Khan Sheikhoun and would continue to defend their territory
Move comes day after Al-Qaida-linked group downs government warplane
Regime forces are just a few kilometers from Khan Sheikhoun, where a 2017 sarin gas attack killed dozens of Syrians
The capture of al-Hobeit is the most significant advance the army has made since the start of its offensive three months ago, Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says
Syria blames Turkey for not abiding by its commitments under a truce deal
Observers welcome 'cautious calm,' but locals report continued artillery activity
Assad government, Russia deny reports they target civilians, argue targeted facilities have been taken over by 'terrorist groups'
With major parties in national unity government involved in alleged assassination, prime minister has been unable to convene cabinet meeting, as country trying to recover from financial crisis
Iran. Kosovo. Syria. Libya. The U.K. Labour leader's carefully cultivated image as a savior of Muslims is a dangerous charade, and his systematic disregard for Muslim lives and freedom contaminates his support for Palestine
Indiscriminate offensive part of 'systematic displacement policy,' local doctor says
Rebel commander says Iran also sending reinforcements, Moscow denies it has boots on the ground
Despite heavy bombardment and thousands of casualties, Assad's troops have not made any significant advances against militants who dominate Idlib province
How economy transformed by conflict creates new elites
Assad's regime could still have chemicals like sarin – and is trying to keep inspectors out of the country, OPCW finds
No reason was given for the shake-up, which came as government forces have made little progress in a two-month-old offensive against rebels in the northwestern Idlib province
Yusuf bin Alawi discusses boosting efforts 'to restore stability and security in the region' with Syrian President Bashar Assad
Although parts of western Aleppo still have busy shopping areas, the city’s factories and wholesale trading businesses have been devastated by war damage and the departure of traders
At least ten civilians were killed in Saturday's government attacks on the Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says
Intensive shelling continued in southern Idlib and northern Hama after the truce went into effect
Syria's Russian-backed military has been pressing an assault on rebels in their last major stronghold with air attacks and ground battles that have already forced tens of thousands to leave their homes
The Arab world is mourning the death of famed soccer player Abdelbaset Sarout, who became an icon of the anti-Assad movement
A fight broke out last week between camp residents and Lebanese firefighters who arrived to put out a fire, during which unknown assailants burned down three tents